The melodious song of chirping birds, the fragrant redolence and aroma of Spring flowers, the majestic soaring of eagles on high, the blossoming of dazzling red roses, the sky radiant with the hand-stroke of a multi-colored rainbow, the transformation of the caterpillar into the majestic Monarch butterfly, the awakening of the world with sunrise and the closure of the day with sundown—all of the above are manifestations of beauty and triumph!
Considering all the glorious array of nature’s beauty that dazzles the eye, none can be compared to the sublime graces that flow from the Sacrament of Baptism! For lack of formation and sufficient catechesis, few have the keen awareness of the fact that Baptism should be the happiest day in the life of man and woman on earth.
INVISIBLE REALITY, BUT INDEED REALITY! The extraordinary graces that flow from Baptism are not captured by many for lack of understanding, but also, not perceived because these graces—countless graces—are invisible. They are not perceived by the human eye, but only through the eyes of those with an authentic faith! Let us pray that we will be among the select few who truly have eyes of faith! Like the blind Bartimaeus, let us cry out to the Lord: “Lord, I want to see!”
Let us read and meditate upon what one of the most authoritative sources teaches on the Sacrament of Baptism—the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway of life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and the word.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 1213)
OUR SECOND BIRTHDAY: CELEBRATE IT!!! All of us who have had the grace, privilege and blessing from God to have received the Sacrament of Baptism, should investigate and ascertain the exact date of our Baptism. Then with this knowledge, every year we should celebrate that day. How? First, we should attend Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion with faith, fervor and fire! Second, we should spend some time in private prayer rendering abundant thanksgiving to God for the great gift that He has given to us of our Baptism. Then, every year bring out the ice-cream, cake and candles and celebrate the Anniversary of our Baptism with family and friends. We have to learn how to celebrate the glorious, spiritual peak-experiences in our lives. Our Baptism is one of those spiritual peak-experiences!
Therefore, let us set forth a categorical list of the many astounding graces that we received on the day that the priest poured water on our forehead and pronounced these words that radically changed our lives. Those words were: X_____Name: “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Transform this wonderful list into a prayer, a Litany of thanksgiving to God. May the words of the Psalmist echo in our hearts! “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; eternal is His mercy.” (Ps. 136: 1)
THE MULTIPLE GRACES THAT FLOW FROM THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
1. ORIGINAL SIN. As a result of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve, we enter the human family with the stain of Original Sin—only Jesus and Mary are excluded! Baptism washes our soul from this moral stain and transforms our soul into radiant beauty, as white as the snow!
2. GOD THE FATHER. With Baptism there is a real entrance into a profound relationship with the Eternal Father. True! We become sons and daughters of God, truly sons and daughters of the Eternal Father. What joy should fill our hearts!
3. GOD THE SON. Our relationship with Jesus through Baptism transforms Him into our Older Brother. If anyone asks you if you have an older brother, your response should be in the positive: “Yes! Jesus is my older brother!” What a privilege!
4. GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT. The third Person of the most Blessed Trinity becomes powerfully present with Baptism. Yes! The Holy Spirit becomes our intimate and Best-Friend! This being said, by maintaining the grace of God in our soul, we are really never alone because the Holy Spirit is there to be our intimate and Best of Friends!
5. BLESSED TRINITY. As a follow up and conclusion, with Baptism we are transformed into living Tabernacles of the Blessed Trinity. The three Persons live together in the very depths of our soul: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In all truth, we become living icons of the Triune God who lives and breathes within our souls!
6. FAITH. In Baptism, God instills in our soul the theological virtue of Faith. Defined: “Faith is the intellectual virtue in which we believe firmly in a God, and all that He teaches through the Church, even though we do not see this God.” Lord, strengthen us in faith!
7. HOPE. The second theological virtue received with Baptism is that of Hope. Defined: “Hope is the theological virtue in which we place our trust in God, even in the midst of severe tribulations and sufferings.” Jesus, I trust in you!
8. CHARITY. The greatest of the theological virtues, as well as of all the virtues, is that of Charity. This virtue has a double dimension: the vertical and the horizontal. Defined: “Charity is the virtue by which I love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength” (The vertical – go up); then, I love my neighbor as myself for love of God” (The horizontal – go out).
9. THE FOUR MORAL/CARDINAL VIRTUES: Justice, Temperance, Prudence, and Fortitude. These virtues facilitate in us the practice of virtues that we need to live out our daily walk with the Lord Jesus.
10. THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God’s graces and gifts pour down upon us like an enormous deluge. With Baptism, God instills in our souls His Gifts, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first three perfect the intellect – Counsel serves as a bridge between the intellect and the will – the last three perfect our will. Marching in, here they are: 1. Wisdom, 2. Knowledge, 3. Understanding, 4. Counsel, 5. Fortitude, 6. Piety, 7. Fear of the Lord.
11. FREEDOM FROM THE DOMINION OF THE DEVI. In the celebration of Baptism, the minister administers a minor exorcism against the devil and his seductions and pomps.
12. UNION WITH OUR NEW FAMILY: THE CHURCH. With Baptism, we are introduced into a new family—the family of the Catholic Church. Jesus is the Head and we are the noble members of His Mystical Body, the Church. This family consists of the Church Triumphant, the saints in heaven; the Church Militant, the soldiers of Christ fighting the good fight on earth; and the Church Suffering, the souls in Purgatory! What an extensive and great family!
13. SANCTIFYING GRACE. Once baptized, the soul is imbued with sanctifying grace. Meaning? The Baptized soul in grace has a deep friendship with God; grace is what makes us truly pleasing to God.
14. OPENS THE DOOR TO THE OTHER SACRAMENTS. Once Baptism is received, then at the appropriate time, each baptized person can prepare to receive the other Sacraments. Of paramount importance, of course, is the preparation and reception of the Most Holy Eucharist: the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus our Lord, God and Savior!
15. INHERITANCE OF ETERNAL LIFE. If we persevere in living out the abundant graces that flow from the Sacrament of Baptism, then the final and ineffable reward is that of ETERNAL LIFE—to be with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Mary, the angels and saints forever in Heaven!
Spend some time in silent prayer, slowly meditating upon this long list of blessings that you received on the day of your Baptism. Profusely abound in thanksgiving for God’s love and generosity. Then live out your Baptismal Promises and strive to become the saint that Jesus has called you to be: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt. 5: 48)